Paid dhamma teachers

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Paid dhamma teachers

Postby rowyourboat » Wed May 25, 2011 9:12 pm

Hello All,

What are the problems you see with dhamma teachers being paid for what they do? How can these be overcome? Would like to hear what you think about this issue.

With metta

Matheesha
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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby David2 » Wed May 25, 2011 9:17 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Hello All,

What are the problems you see with dhamma teachers being paid for what they do? How can these be overcome? Would like to hear what you think about this issue.

With metta

Matheesha


There don't have to be problems with it.
It is just a problem if the teacher charges more than he needs to finance a simple living.

Generally, the dhamma is supposed to be free for everyone. However, the teachers of the dhamma still have to eat something.

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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby rowyourboat » Wed May 25, 2011 9:50 pm

David2 wrote:
rowyourboat wrote:Hello All,

What are the problems you see with dhamma teachers being paid for what they do? How can these be overcome? Would like to hear what you think about this issue.

With metta

Matheesha


There don't have to be problems with it.
It is just a problem if the teacher charges more than he needs to finance a simple living.

Generally, the dhamma is supposed to be free for everyone. However, the teachers of the dhamma still have to eat something.

With Metta,
David


Hi David,

But how would you decide what a 'simple life' is? Besides who decides that? There are no statutory bodies for this kind of thing, practically speaking. Desires are endless, and often after having one thing it tends to loose it's lustre and then the next higher thing is needed. One man's simple life is another's luxurious one. :shrug:

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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby Kim OHara » Wed May 25, 2011 9:57 pm

David2 wrote:Generally, the dhamma is supposed to be free for everyone. However, the teachers of the dhamma still have to eat something.

Absolutely. The solution in traditionally-Buddhist countries is dana to the monks, who are given enough to live on by the entire community, but that doesn't work for us in the West.
'Donations' to teachers here are often 'fees' by another name, and in general I think it's better to be honest about what is happening with the money. In particular, I have reservations about teachers who take more than is needed for a comfortable living (not saying it happens amongst Buddhist teachers but there have been plenty of cases amongst Indian 'gurus' in the West).

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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby rowyourboat » Wed May 25, 2011 10:40 pm

Hi Kim,

So you prefer the term 'fees' clearly stated over 'donations'. But what about those who can't afford the fees but can get by with a donation? Surely it is not right to deprive them of the dhamma?

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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby kirk5a » Wed May 25, 2011 10:47 pm

How come laypersons are still laypersons, if they want to teach the Dhamma to such an extent that they need to make a living from teaching? I guess that's my question. Why don't they ordain?
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 25, 2011 10:57 pm

Greetings,

kirk5a wrote:How come laypersons are still laypersons, if they want to teach the Dhamma to such an extent that they need to make a living from teaching? I guess that's my question. Why don't they ordain?

I'm inclined to think this way for the most part, but understand ordination isn't always possible, for any number of reasons.

As an alternative, they could actually reside at the meditation centre. It's a bit of a mid-point, and if the place of residence/meditation was functional instead of fancy, would help to demonstrate the "not for profit" motive.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby Kim OHara » Wed May 25, 2011 11:04 pm

rowyourboat wrote:Hi Kim,
So you prefer the term 'fees' clearly stated over 'donations'. But what about those who can't afford the fees but can get by with a donation? Surely it is not right to deprive them of the dhamma?

Hi, Matheesha,
It's going to depend on context, obviously, but letting the teacher starve (or, more realistically, forcing him/her to take time away from teaching to earn money for food) is also depriving people of the dhamma. Also, the dhamma, at some some level, is nowadays free to everyone who can read - and that's nearly everyone. There are public libraries, there are free dhamma publications, etc.

Yoga teachers charge a set fee per class, as do Tai Chi and Qi Gong teachers, so why not meditation teachers?
'Dhamma talks' can have introducing people to the dhamma as a primary function and it may be more appropriate to ask for a donation.
Meanwhile teachers, community-spirited people, ordained religious of all religions, and lay religious folk do regularly give their time to deserving causes - English classes for migrants, prison literacy programmes, etc, etc - and any dhamma teacher can do as much or as little of that as he/she chooses. But I think it ought to be their free, conscious choice, not something forced upon them or automatically expected of them.

It's a matter of finding a middle way - as well as teaching it! :tongue:

How you label fees/donations will again depend on context, but IMO anyone asking for a donation ought to say where it's going. A lot of groups do that already, of course.

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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby Kim OHara » Wed May 25, 2011 11:09 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

kirk5a wrote:How come laypersons are still laypersons, if they want to teach the Dhamma to such an extent that they need to make a living from teaching? I guess that's my question. Why don't they ordain?

I'm inclined to think this way for the most part, but understand ordination isn't always possible, for any number of reasons.

As an alternative, they could actually reside at the meditation centre. It's a bit of a mid-point, and if the place of residence/meditation was functional instead of fancy, would help to demonstrate the "not for profit" motive.

Metta,
Retro. :)

That's a good idea where it's possible, Retro, but it's big-city thinking. Groups in smaller places, like here, don't even have sole use of their meditation centres, let alone the possibility of anyone living there.

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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby kirk5a » Wed May 25, 2011 11:18 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

kirk5a wrote:How come laypersons are still laypersons, if they want to teach the Dhamma to such an extent that they need to make a living from teaching? I guess that's my question. Why don't they ordain?

I'm inclined to think this way for the most part, but understand ordination isn't always possible, for any number of reasons.

Such as, for example? Keeping in mind - isn't possible.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 25, 2011 11:24 pm

Greetings Kirk,
kirk5a wrote:Such as, for example? Keeping in mind - isn't possible.

There's differing degrees of "possible"... there's firm Vinaya restrictions that might keep some people out (including females, in places with no bhikkhuni support), but even just more mundane things like still having debts, having a family that one is not prepared to leave, requiring medication which would be burdensome for lay-folk to provide etc.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby mikenz66 » Wed May 25, 2011 11:27 pm

Teachers I've come across are either monastic (so any donation is optional) or are lay people with day jobs, and, again dana is optional. For retreats the local insight society organizes the venue and charges a fee for the accommodation and food (with a half-price option for those who feel they cannot afford it) and the visiting teachers are provided with travel and accommodation, and it's optional for participants to give dana.

That sort of arrangement seems common in other places (like IMS), with a clear distinction between payment for the venue and food and donations for the teachers. I think it's a useful distinction.

:anjali:
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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 25, 2011 11:28 pm

Greetings Kim,
Kim O'Hara wrote:That's a good idea where it's possible, Retro, but it's big-city thinking. Groups in smaller places, like here, don't even have sole use of their meditation centres, let alone the possibility of anyone living there.

Not necessarily... why couldn't it be part of, or an annexe to one's place of residence?

Genkaku, who some of us know through Dharma forums, did something similar (albeit in the Zen tradition).

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby Jhana4 » Wed May 25, 2011 11:28 pm

I think the question of "paid dhamma teachers" is coming up because Buddhism is still new in the West and there aren't well established institutions as in Asia for providing for people. I think this question is important as it will help shape what will become western Buddhism. There can be western monks with western sanghas and western temples. Look at Ajahn Brahm.
S.N. Goenka's centers also function very well in the western world, without fees, with volunteer teachers and in a mostly secular institution. The IMS model isn't the only way things can succeed in the U.S. and the West.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby Kim OHara » Thu May 26, 2011 12:44 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Kim,
Kim O'Hara wrote:That's a good idea where it's possible, Retro, but it's big-city thinking. Groups in smaller places, like here, don't even have sole use of their meditation centres, let alone the possibility of anyone living there.

Not necessarily... why couldn't it be part of, or an annexe to one's place of residence?

Genkaku, who some of us know through Dharma forums, did something similar (albeit in the Zen tradition).

Metta,
Retro. :)

Perhaps I should have said 'some' groups. Of the two groups closest to me, one meets in a rented shop-front which it sub-lets some evenings to groups with similar purposes, and the other meets in a university's multi-faith chaplaincy building. For either of these existing groups to do what you suggest, the teacher would need to be able to permanently set aside space in his/her home - not always easy - and deal with visitor parking, neighbour relations, public liability ... I don't know what else, but those four obstacles are significant enough.

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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 26, 2011 9:39 am

Greetings Kim,

Kim O'Hara wrote:those four obstacles are significant enough.

Sure, but they're less life altering than becoming a monk... which is how we got onto such discussion of alternatives in the first place.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby pilgrim » Thu May 26, 2011 9:48 am

I feel religious professionals, i.e monks, clergy, or anyone who wears robes should not be paid. For lay teachers , from sunday school teachers to meditation teachers, they need money to live their lives.
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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby kirk5a » Thu May 26, 2011 1:57 pm

I think if someone wants to teach Dhamma to such an extent that they have no time for a normal job, then let them show their commitment and ordain. And complete their own training in the process, how about that? Unless you believe in lay arahants, I don't.

The Dhamma is not for a layperson to sell because they need to "eat" I think the notion is rotten. No way can I see the Buddha giving sanction to such a thing. If the Dhamma isn't for the ordained to sell, it sure as heck isn't for laypeople to sell.

By which of course I am not saying that laypeople should not teach, or that there doesn't need to be recovery of costs for a retreat or meditation center. However, that's a separate matter from costs related to supporting the teacher.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby Jhana4 » Thu May 26, 2011 2:25 pm

Do people have a problem with paid meditation teachers or paid dhamma teachers?

In that regard here is free 1 hour documentary about a similar debate with hatha yoga as a business in the west.

http://www.hulu.com/watch/134936/yoga-inc
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Paid dhamma teachers

Postby Kim OHara » Thu May 26, 2011 9:53 pm

Jhana4 wrote:Do people have a problem with paid meditation teachers or paid dhamma teachers?

In that regard here is free 1 hour documentary about a similar debate with hatha yoga as a business in the west.

http://www.hulu.com/watch/134936/yoga-inc

Could you summarise it, Jhana4, for those of us who haven't got an hour's worth of interest in the subject?
TIA,
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